We were fortunate to ship our car overseas, and we finally got it all set up to drive here in China! I’ve been warned by other people how you want to avoid driving in Beijing at all costs to the difficulties with the traffic and drivers. It definitely made me unsure about having our car here. However, after taking taxis for the last five and half months, I’ve started to learn my way around and how the driving is. I was so excited to finally have our car here instead of always relying on a taxi or hiring a driver for longer excursions.
So what’s it really like?
I really don’t think driving here in Beijing is that big of a deal. It’s like driving in D.C., except maybe turned up a notch. There’s definitely a lot of traffic and while D.C. has drivers you need to be cautious of, Beijing has waaaay more drivers (and bicyclists and scooters and pedestrians) to watch out for when driving.
In Beijing, people hardly ever stop when turning right (or left for that matter). When you get up to an intersection and you want to turn left, you just go—incoming traffic or not.
Just like when walking here, might makes right. Buses go and you better get out of the way. Scooters seem to know that the cars are going to go before it’s their turn (yet they’ll still zip through intersections. (On another note, pedestrians definitely do not have the right of way–crosswalk/light/etc. or not).
And how about the rest of China?
From what we have seen in our travels to cities outside of Beijing, Beijing is one with unique driver circumstances. Chengdu had traffic cops monitoring the area. People actually stopped at lights and didn’t cause major traffic blockages. Scooters actually stayed in the scooter lane. Why Beijing can’t implement something similar is beyond what I know.
Tips for driving here
I would recommend not driving if you lack confidence with your driving as well as if you can manage just fine with all the other means of public transportation. Driving here means you need to be aggressive yet super aware. Oh, and if you happen to get into an accident (hopefully not!), you do not move your car at all. Even if your car is blocking the road, you stay there until the police show up to help solve the issue (which may just be you paying the other driver cash on the spot).
Why I Love Having Our Car Here?
I can now drive out to the barn where I go horseback riding instead of needing to get a taxi there and back. I can put that money towards more lessons now. 😉
We can start to explore the city some and get outside of downtown! This also means that we can now take the pups out for excursions too (and they love their car rides!). We have already visited a park just outside the downtown area and have driven out to a new section of the Great Wall.
It’s nice to have the freedom to drive where you want and to stay how long you want there.
It definitely was a bit of a headache getting our car all set here (and not the cheapest either), but I think we’ll like having it here in the long run.
Oh, and when walking or driving here, you never know what you may encounter…
TOTE: Be confident and be aware when driving in Beijing–if you decide to drive.